5G, the new mobile communications standard, seems to be all the rage. Switzerland’s biggest mobile service providers, Swisscom and Sunrise, are among the first telecom providers to launch 5G networks. Both companies have been at least as aggressive in their 5G marketing campaigns, with each trying to sell itself as a telecom pioneer.
But consumers who want to put 5G to the test need to have both a 5G-compatible phone and a mobile plan which includes 5G service. “The problem is, there are only a handful of phones and plans which support 5G, and all of these are expensive,” states moneyland.ch telecom expert Ralf Beyeler.
Choices of 5G phones are few in Switzerland
Although Swisscom and Sunrise are heavily promoting 5G, both of these companies offer very few 5G-compatible phones.
Swisscom sells the OPPO Reno 5G phone for 999 Swiss francs and (since May 27, 2019) the LG V50 ThinQ for 1299 francs (or 1099 francs). Sunrise offers the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G for 997 francs and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G for 847 francs. Sunrise also lets consumers preorder the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, with deliveries scheduled for June 14, 2019 onwards. Swisscom plans to start selling the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G starting June 14, 2019.
Apple fans may have a longer wait. There is no 5G-compatible iPhone as of yet, and the date of its launch is currently unknown.
“At the moment, all of the 5G phones on the market are extremely expensive, costing upwards of 800 francs. Manufacturers are taking advantage of the lack of competition and the fact that there are customers who are ready to pay more for 5G phones,” says Ralf Beyeler.
Important: Mobile service providers will continue to maintain their GSM (2G), UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G) networks after setting up 5G networks. That means you can continue to use your current phone and do not need to upgrade your existing plan.
5G plans compared
If you want to benefit from a 5G phone, you have to get a 5G-compatible mobile plan. Swisscom currently only includes 5G capabilities in these plans: inOne mobile go; inOne mobile premium; inOne mobile data XL and Swiss mobile flat (and its corresponding youth versions). The inOne mobile go and the Swiss mobile flat plans do not let users take full advantage of possible data transfer speeds. The optional Premium Speed add-on (10 francs per month) and Connect Pack add-on (20 francs per month) enable access to higher speeds. 5G is not currently supported by the inOne mobile basic plan, the Swiss Mobile light plan and older Swisscom plans.
Sunrise users can access 5G capabilities with the swiss unlimited, swiss neighbors and europe & US versions of its Freedom and Young plans. An optional 5G add-on is required, and this costs 10 francs per month. All other Sunrise plans are not yet 5G compatible.
Surprisingly, Sunrise 5G-compatible plans work out more expensive than Swisscom’s. The cheapest 5G-compatible plan from Swisscom costs 65 francs per month. The cheapest 5G-compatible plan from Sunrise costs 75 francs per month with the 5G add-on – 10 francs or 15% more expensive. “Both Sunrise and Swisscom are only offering 5G with their expensive plans. Affordable plan users are on hold for the time being,” states telecom expert Ralf Beyeler. “The 5G markup which Sunrise users have to pay is also customer-unfriendly.”
Customers of all other mobile service providers like M-Budget Mobile, Coop Mobile, Wingo, Aldi, Yallo and UPC cannot access 5G networks at this time. Salt – which will be launching 5G networks shortly – also does not currently offer 5G connectivity. The comprehensive mobile plan comparison on moneyland.ch lets mobile users quickly find all 5G-compatible plans.
Buying a 5G phone is hardly worth it
At this point in time, only a handful of locations in Switzerland have functional 5G networks. But both Swisscom and Sunrise aim to expand coverage to large portions of the country by the end of the year. Right now, 5G phones and plans are expensive.
“For the majority of mobile users, 5G does not currently bring any real benefits. Most consumers can easily afford to wait on buying a 5G-compatible phone,” concludes Ralf Beyeler. That said, in locations which have functional 5G networks, early adopters can benefit from high speeds because they do not yet have to share 5G antennae with large numbers of other users.
Compare mobile plans (with/without 5G)